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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  August 21, 2018 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT

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russia? >> this is not purely campaign issue. he directed white house staffers to lie about this. this ain't over. >> awaiting a press conference of prosecutors in new york in the michael cohen plea. any moment. the coverage on the major breaking news continues now with wolf blitzer in "the situation room." thank you for watching 36. manafort guilty. paul manafort found guilty on eight of the counts against him and the jury can't decide on the other ten counts. does that count as a victory for the special counsel robert mueller? cohen plea deal. president trump's former lawyer and long time fixer michael cohen surrenders to the fbi and strikes a plea deal on campaign finance violations. tax fraud and bank fraud. cohen once said he'd never turn on the president but did he just implicate president trump? tied to trump. cohen's plea deal on campaign
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finance charges is tied to the efforts to protect president trump in handling the stormy daniels case. will the plea implicate the president more? preparing to attack. just months before the midterms, microsoft now says it's foiled a cyber attack by the same russian intelligence unit linked to the 2016 election attacks. this time the targets are different. will the president do anything about this? i'm wolf blitzer. you're "the situation room." breaking news. two of president trump's former close associates are right now in legal hot water and the temperature is just reached the boiling point. a jury finds former trump campaign chairman paul manafort guilty on eight counts. an assortment of tax fraud and bank charges. while the judge declares a mistrial on ten other counts and the president's one-time long
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time lawyer and fixer michael cohen was taken into custody by the fbi just before pleading guilty and facing prison time for tax and bank fraud charges along with campaign finance charges linked to the hush money deals with stormy daniels and karen mcdougall. we have reporters standing by outside the courthouses in virginia and new york. and i'll speak with congressman castro. our correspondents and specialists are also standing by with full coverage. let's begin with the verdict in the paul manafort trial. our justice correspondent jessica schneider outside the courthouse in virginia. update our viewers, jessica. what's just happened? >> reporter: wolf, paul manafort guilty on eight separate counts including bank fraud, tax fraud and hiding foreign bank accounts and when the judge informed paul manafort of this guilty verdict in part, paul manafort stared straight ahead as he stood
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before the judge. he did not smile. and he showed know motion. now, paul manafort, the former campaign chairman of president trump, he's now facing up to 80 years in prison. let me break it down for you. this jury found paul manafort guilty on eight of the 18 counts. five counts were tax fraud charges. one was hiding a foreign bank account and two charges they found him guilty on, bank fraud. all of those counts in total carry up to 80 years in prison. the bank fraud charges carrying 30 years each. this is a harsh reality for paul manafort, especially after four days of deliberations where his defense team showed an upbeat, positive attitude. their mantra was the longer that this jury took deliberating the better chances were for paul manafort. but today, paul manafort learning his fate on eight of those counts. ten of those counts the jury could not come to an agreement on. now prosecutors need to tell the
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judge by august 29th whether or not they plan to move forward with a retrial on those ten counts only. but a stunning moment or few moments in court, wolf. paul manafort showing know motion, and throughout this trial. paul manafort's wife kathy, been here throughout the proceedings, throughout the deliberations. she also showed know motion. just sitting there simply clasping her hands in her lap. but a day that paul manafort now knows he's been found guilty on eight counts. wolf? >> jessica, do we expect to hear from members of the jury? >> reporter: it is unknown at this point. but the likely guess is that we won't hear from this jury. the jury has told the judge they do not want their names released. that was a question a little bit earlier whether or not the judge might release the names. he decided he wouldn't and the jury stressing they do not want their names released. the judge told the jury he
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recommends to them, stay quiet. not talk to the media. the judge said that this is not a mandate. this is not something that they have to do. but the judge put it this way. he said i suggest to you that you have a duty of confidentiality. so it remains to be seen if the juries will talk. by all indications they might not and obey what the judge's wishes are and don't want the identities released. wolf? >> paul manafort found guilty on eight counts. jessica, we'll get back to you. i want to go to cara scanell in new york city where president trump's one time fixer and lawyer michael cohen taken a plea deal himself. update our viewers on the very latest. >> reporter: court just ended where michael cohen pled guilty to eight criminal counts including personal tax evasion, filing a false statement to a bank and two charges of campaign finance violations. during the hearing pretty rapid fire, the judge went through
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everything quickly. michael cohen composed, confident and spoke authoritatively admitting the crimes to the judge. now, as part of this deal, cohen is -- has agreement with prosecutors and the judge is not bound for it receiving a prison between 46 months and 63 months in prison. he also offered a moment of levity when the judge asked him if he had had -- consumed drugs or alcohol the last night. he said he had a glass of scotch on the rocks and acknowledged he did not pay taxes for five years. he also described the campaign finance violations. and in michael cohen's own words, he said, in coordination and at the direction of the candidate for federal office. and then went on to describe two payments without identifying anyone by name but the payments themselves we know and we have covered which is $130,000 payment to stormy daniels and
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$150,000 payment that michael cohen he said helped arrange at the request of the candidate. american media. the publisher of "national enquirer." mcdougall alleged an affair with now president trump. in michael cohen's own words today, he's described that he committed campaign finance violations in coordination and at the direction of the candidate for federal office. he did not identify president trump by name. but we know by the activities that he was working for trump. he has been trump's long time fixer. he's worked for him for ten years. as the president's personal attorney. wolf? >> this is a huge, huge deal. as you know, kara, a huge problem for the president of the united states when long time lawyer and fixer implicates him in this federal courthouse. >> reporter: it's really a stunning development, wolf. i mean, the president is not charged, of course, in this
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matter. the justice department guidelines preclude indicting a sitting president. michael cohen in his own words defying his long time ally. he has said he would take a bullet for president trump. and now he's publicly saying in court under oath that he committed these crimes in coordination and at the direction of the then candidate. >> very specific words. could cohen still cooperate with the special counsel robert mueller's overall russia probe? as you know, mueller delegated this case to the u.s. attorney in the southern district of new york. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. this investigation began by referral from robert mueller. but as part of this plea agreement, michael cohen is not, you know, coop rating. he is not in cooperation deal with the u.s. attorney's office in manhattan bringing this case. nothing precludes him from speaking with robert mueller's investigators or from them reaching out to michael cohen. he's not under any obligation to cooperate with them.
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but he certainly can cooperate with them and it's, you know, it is not off the table that he would try to cooperate with them, wolf. >> standing by. you see the microphones out there outside the federal courthouse in new york. we expect to hear from prosecutors and potentially overs, as well. we will have live extensive coverage here in situation room. kara, stand by, as well. i want to bring in joey jackson and reporter she hoimon. >> they're saying in coordination and at the direction of candidate of federal office meaning the president. you cannot get anymore serious here. and anymore direct link to the president. you know, the president has -- >> hold on a second. we see michael cohen leaving the federal courthouse right there. let's listen to see if he says anything.
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clearly walking quickly. didn't stop at the microphones. we'll be hearing from the federal prosecutors in new york for the u.s. attorney in the southern district in report. shimon, go ahead and finish your thought. >> you cannot get a more direct link really to the president. you have michael cohen in his own words standing there before a judge taking an oath. pleading guilty to these charges. and admitting that he did this on behalf of the president. the other thing, what's interesting, we now understand why the fbi's public corruption unit was investigating this. right? you have these campaign finance laws. you have money that was being paid to keep things secret from the public during the election. all of that very, very serious. and clearly, when robert mueller came upon this, he thought he needed to be further investigated and he referred it
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to the southern district and the fbi went with it and a stunning day here. really just changes everything, wolf, in terms of this investigation, in terms of how it relates to the president, in terms of the president knew, in terms of what the president doing and the conversations that he was having with michael cohen and directing him to do this. >> it is stunning, joey jackson. when michael cohen says that he helped orchestrate $150,000 payment to karen mcdougall, $130,000 payment to stormy daniels at -- in his words in coordination and the direction of the candidate of federal office he's referring to the then republican candidate. weeks before the presidential election donald trump. >> that's absolutely right. so threat's look at big picture here. all right, wolf? no matter how you slice this and
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the political spin, this is a horrific day for the white house. horrific. all right? you will have pundits come out, say various things. let's speak facts if we can for a minute. everyone speaks to the issue of cooperation. not predicated on the agreement? are you kidding me? what he said in the court, implicit in the alloc ution. the judge want it is know you can answer questions responsibly. in answer to the question, he says that in coordination and at the direction of someone, right? we know that someone of and concerning the president. implicit in his statements that he's making to the court is his cooperation in stating that, look, i did break these laws but i did not act unilaterally. i acted at that guy's direction. are you kidding? that's majorly significant.
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we call that conspiracy. it's an agreement to violate the person. the person that violated the law, the white house, the president of the united states. it turns to the question of what if anything will congress do about it to the extent you can't go arrest the president. you can't indict the president. to be clear, these are his statements and you could certainly punch holes through a statement and say he's a liar and call him what you will but this is huge and then match it, wolf, briefly, with what happened with paul manafort convicted of eight counts and it's just horrific because now you have the long-term fixer of the president and the former campaign chairperson of the president and the developments are historic. what will happen moving forward? >> we're reading through the plea agreement right now, shimon. others are getting it. we're also standing by to hear from the u.s. deputy attorney when's there. joey -- here's manafort, paul
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manafort's lawyer in alexandria, virginia. >> mr. manafort is disappointed of not getting acquittals all the way through or a complete hung jury on all counts. however, he would like to thank judge ellis for granting him a fair trial. thanked the jury for their very long and hard-fought deliberations. he is evaluating all of his options at this point. thank you, everyone. >> all right. not answering questions. that's the attorney representing paul manafort. the former trump campaign chairman found guilty on eight counts, five counts of tax fraud. two counts of bank fraud. one count of hiding foreign bank accounts. he's found guilty. potentially could face a couple hundred years in prison. 69 years old right now. there was a hung jury on ten other counts but guilty on these eight counts. quickly going back to joey
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jackson in new york. he's watching all of this. when the trump long time personal attorney, for at least a decade, maybe a dozen years, long time fixer, when he says that the president of the united states, now the president, then a republican presidential candidate, a candidate of federal office, was coordinating with him the payments to stormy daniels and karen mcdougall only days before the presidential election, explain to our viewers why that potentially could be a violation of federal campaign finance laws. >> very simple. because in the event you're going to issue or give something to your campaign, number one, you have to report what you're doing. this was not. number two, circumventing the system. there are limits with regard what to contribute. certainly, trump himself could have -- >> hold on one moment. hold on. here's the deputy u.s. attorney in new york who's going to be making a statement. >> okay.
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good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. my name's robert kazami. i'm the attorney for the united states in this matter. with me is phil sweeney, assistant director in charge of the new york field office of the fbi and james rodna who's the supervisory agent in charge of the new york office of the irs. also with me are the prosecutors from the united states attorney's office in the southern district of new york who prosecuted the cohen matter. i'm going to have a brief statement and will not be taking any questions. today, as you heard, michael cohen pled guilty to eight felony charges. five of those dealt with tax evasion for the years 2012 through 2016. in which he failed to report approximately $4.1 million in reported income. approximately $2.5 million of that money was from interest arraignment paimts of a personal
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loan he failed to report, approximately $1.3 million of that money was from the operation of his taxi medallion business. approximately $100,000 of that money was from brokerage commissions and over $200,000 was from consulting fees. that's over $4.3 million over 5-year period which translates into a loss to the united states treasury of approximately $1.3 million. in addition, in count six, mr. cohen pled guilty to making false statements to a financial institution in connection with an application of a home equity line of credit. in that application, he failed to disclose more than $14 million in debt that he had and as a result of that conceivement he obtained that $500,000 line of credit which he would not have been entitled to had he
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been candid and honest. in addition, mr. cohen pled guilty to two campaign finance charges, one for causing an unlawful corporate contribution and second one for a personal contribution, both for the purpose of influencing the 2016 election. in addition, what he did was he worked to pay money to silence two women who had information that he believed would be detrimental to the 2016 campaign and to the candidate and the campaign. in addition, mr. cohen sought reimbursement for that money by submitting invoices to the candidate's company which were untrue and false. they indicated that the reimbursement was for services rendered for the year 2017 when, in fact, those invoices were a
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sham. he provided no legal services for 2017 and it was simply a means to obtain reimbursement for the unlawful campaign contribution. a couple of points i'd like to make. first, these are very serious charges and reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over an extended period of time. they're significant in their own rights. they are particularly significant when done by a lawyer. a lawyer who through training and tradition understands what it means to be a lawyer, to engage in honest and fair dealing and adherence to the law. mr. cohen disregarded that training, disregarded that tradition and decided that he was above the law and for that he's going to pay a very, very serious price. with respect to the campaign finance violations, the campaign finance laws are signed to prevent the use of illegal money in elections and to main tan the
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integrity of those elections. mr. cohen made guilty pleas for the campaign violations and those are core violations. and what he did was he -- these pleas remind us it's illegal for corporations to make contributions to candidates and it is illegal to make contributions in excess of the amount that congress set for individuals. that is a strong message today and we will not be -- we will not fear prosecuting additional corporation -- campaign finance cases. lastly, perhaps most importantly, this case is unique in many ways. just witness the gathering of all of you here today. and in other ways, it is unique, as well. but in the really important ways, this case is not unlike many cases that my office, the united states attorney's office brings, that the entire
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department of justice brings and that the law enforcement agencies do, as well, including the fbi and the irs. this case has more in common with all of those cases because they all share the same message. and that message is that the rule of law applies. and that for law enforcement, all of whom are gathered here, it's our commitment that we'll pursue and vindicate those who choose to break did law and vindicate the majority of people who live law abiding lives, who follow honest and fair dealing and live lives of lawful behavior. the message is that we are here. prosecutors are here. law enforcement is here. the department of justice is here. the law enforcement agencies here. we are a nation of laws. and the essence of this case is about is justice and that is an equal playing field for all
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persons in the eyes of the law and that is a lesson that mr. cohen learned today and it is a very harsh one for him. thank you very much. >> who is the candidate you're talking about? >> i'm sorry. one other thing. i'm sorry. i'm sorry. i'd also like to introduce -- sorry. my fault. i really want to thank mr. sweeney and james rodna of the fbi and the irs. and the agents who work for them. we do many, many cases with them. and their determination and their fair dealing and their vigor with which they pursue the cases is inspirational. to the prosecutors in my office, i cannot express the gratitude for the hard work that they did in this case. and that is assist the united states attorneys griz wold and maman and mckay and the deputy chief of the public corruption unit and russell capone, the
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chief of the public corruption unit. for all of these people, i could go on and on about their many virtues and talents but the one important thing is they all are satisfied with being known as public servants, prosecutors and law enforcement agents who are doing their job. thank you very much. >> can they tell us who the candidate is? >> all right. there you have the deputy u.s. attorney for the southern district of new york in manhattan right there. robert kuzani saying michael cohen pled guilty. unlawful campaign contributions in his words and he will pay according to the deputy u.s. attorney a very serious price for all of this. and directly implicating according to michael cohen in his statement before the federal judge, he was doing this, making these payments, orchestrating these payments to stormy daniels
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and karen mcdougall, hush money, if you will, hush money and he said he was doing it, quote, in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office. we're talking about the then republican presidential candidate for president of the united states. that would be donald trump. very, very serious allegations, indeed. a huge bombshell. shimon, i know you have been carefully going through the written statement that was signed by the u.s. attorney, signed by michael cohen. the other attorneys, as well. >> that's right, wolf. really, this's the plea agreement. what we're waiting for is the information which is going do give us a lot of the details that we're looking for. the plea agreement goes over the different counts are and what the money that michael cohen would forfeiture and the jail time he's facing and already talking about but i want to point something out, wolf. this prosecutor. the prosecutor that just spoke, number two person at the southern district of new york. the main person when's the u.s.
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attorney there had to recuse himself from the case because he was appointed by the president. but keep in mind of what he said here. the lesson here is that we are a nation of laws and that justice is an equal playing field. right? and just think about what all of this means and how the president has continued to attack the department of justice, how the president has continued to attack the fbi and here they are, the fbi in new york doing this investigation. now essentially implicating him and saying that he directed, that he was coordinating with michael cohen in the payments. one point, michael cohen when he was pleading guilty told the court that this was done, quote, for the principle purpose of influencing the election. the russians we have been focusing on but this could be the bigger problem for the president with a former personal lawyer before the court in the
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public pleaded guilty, admitted before a judge under oath he was doing this on behalf of the president of the united states. >> you know, it's very interesting. you make a good point. the deputy u.s. attorney in new york, he was presiding -- he was in charge of the prosecution. the u.s. attorney jeff berman recused himself because he was named by president trump. and he thought that would be inappropriate. joey jackson, give us your reaction to what we heard. >> devastating. look. here's the issue. we know that this was a plea agreement. in light of that, there's an allocution. you indicate what you did. in the indication, michael cohen, of what he did. he said he abouted at the direction of the president. now, very critical, didn't say that but it was of and concerning and clear who he was talking about so let's be clear about this. it's not a trial. now it has the same import of a trial pleading guilty. as if you went to trial an
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convicted by a jury. why is that significant? it's significant because now that you have implicated the president, what you are looking for is not only michael cohen's words but you're going to be looking if you're going to take down the president what if any corroboration exists? since there was not trial, without a trial what you do is put the government to their proof. you cross-examine everything, question everything. that didn't happen. he said this is what occurred. now you want do look at what other documentary evidence exists if any corroborating the statement that i did it because the president told me to. i'm using that loosely. if, wolf, if there's corroboration of saying and not basing it upon michael cohen's word, we have serious problems and we are in a critical time in our mystery. now it's going to be left up to the congress as to what they're going to do about it because we know that you just don't indict a sitting president. it's a political process and congress, the house of representatives have to act and then the senate by two thirds
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vote to impeach. we are there. this is a big day in our history. >> certainly is. i want you to stand by. shimon, stand by, as well. democratic congressman castro of texas joining us, a key member of the intelligence and foreign affairs committee. let me get your quick reaction. stunning news in new york. >> it is. i mean, today we witnessed the president of the united states go from the frying pan into the fire. moving not just from political liability or a bad situation of russia, collusion and so forth to perhaps legal liability now. and the question is coming up a few times about what the congress will do. and i can't say for sure what the congress will do but i believe that the judiciary committee in both the house and the senate should take this issue up immediately and should start to hold hearings of what happened. call in the folks who can corroborate what the president may have done according to michael cohen. call in the people from american media, the man who owns "the
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enquirer," for example, and corroborate what was said by michael cohen. the president's personal lawyer, somebody who's kept his secrets, somebody who's been not just a lawyer but a confidant to this president has made very serious allegations about the president's behavior. >> do you believe the president of the united states committed a crime? >> it certainly seems that way based on what michael cohen said. he violated campaign finance laws. >> if you believe michael cohen in terms of coordinating the payments to stormy daniels and karen mcdougall. >> he did it, wolf. important the note that he did it to win the presidential election. but he also may have obstructed justice if he asked people like sarah sanders or other white house aides once he was in the white house to lie about it. >> the senate intelligence committee, the chairman and the ranking democrat, they came out saying they want to reengage with michael cohen, irrespective of the guilty plea right now.
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do you have confidence that the republican majority in the house of representatives and you're a member of the house is going to do anything about this? >> wolf, it is one of the things you hope for the best. do i have faith in that? honestly, no, i don't. they should. can i tell you that they will? no. i would say if the intelligence committees in both chambers to take it up again, that's great. with this provides, everything going forward from now on i believe should be done 100% out in the open so that the public can see what's going on because it's moved to another level of seriousness. >> do you believe michael cohen? >> i do. i led the interview for him for democrats along with adam schiff. >> appearing before the house intelligence committee behinded closed doors? >> behind closed doors. the transcript still is not released. we should release that transcript so that the american people can read it and make a judgment for themselves. >> going back to the 2016, june 2016 meeting over at trump tower
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the russians and his campaign chairman, his son, his son-in-law, do you believe that the president at that time he was then the republican candidate had advanced knowledge of what was about to happen at that meeting, what it was all about? >> you know, the final resolution on that question, we don't have yet. there was a mysterious blocked phone call made and received right around the time in the same time period when that meeting was being set up by donald trump jr. because the house intelligence committee and as far as i know the senate intelligence committee never issued a subpoena to at&t to get the phone records of who was on that call, we don't know. in my gut, do i think it's quite possible that president trump knew? yes. but again, that's something that should have been subpoenaed and perhaps robert mueller knows the answer to that question. >> on the same day that paul manafort, the campaign chairman for the trump campaign, he's found guilty on eight counts, could spend many, many years in
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prison right now. 69 years old. your reaction to that? ten counts there was a hung jury on. >> think about that for a second. split screen basically today you have the man who the president entrusted to be his campaign manager. >> chairman. >> the chairman. but basically, the number one person, maybe number two person in the campaign. going to court, getting convicted and then his personal lawyer of many years, his confidant, his fixer also making a plea agreement and will be sentenced later on. this is a horrible day for the president but really also a horrible day for the united states of america. >> we're standing by. the president arriving in west virginia. got a campaign rally going on. you see air force one over there. you see some members of the media walking out of the back steps. maybe walking down the stairs on the front of the plane to say something, he might answer a question or two. we'll stand by that. we'll show our viewers live pictures. bottom line right now, where do
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we go from here? >> i think the congress, the house of representatives and the senate need to take up this investigation immediately and it needs to be done out in the open. >> see if that happens, what happens between now and the midterm elections. that could be slit cli important, as well. thank you so much, congressman. >> thank you. jeffrey toobin is with us right now, as well. jeffrey, give us your analysis on what's happened on this historic day here in the united states. >> well, there are many important events that took place today. virtually simultaneously. but the thing that is of the most significance and it is of immense significance is that michael cohen implicated donald trump in a federal crime. he said that his violation of campaign finance laws was in coordination with and at the direction of donald trump. that means that according to
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this guilty plea, donald trump was a co-conspirator and or an aider and abetter to of this crime. that is in of itself something of such great significance that i don't even think it has a parallel during watergate. no one, i believe, pled guilty during the -- during the nixon presidency tying the president so directly into a federal crime. what happens as a result of that if anything is a very different question but the -- you know, for a long time we had heard from the president's supporters, well, this is nothing to do with donald trump. it has to do with the ukraine, many years ago. this brings the scandal right to the door of the white house. >> explain potentially what was illegal if there was coordination and direction from the then republican candidate
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donald trump with michael cohen his long time fixer and lawyer and securing what were widely seen as hush money agreements with karen mcdougall and stormy daniels. >> well, a couple of different possibilities. first of all, as a purely dollar value, outsiders are only allowed to contribute a certain amount. i believe it's $5,300 per election. this is -- this was well in excess of that. but more importantly, it has to do with the reporting requirements. is that there are requirements that all money that goes in to a presidential campaign has to be accounted for. it has to -- you have to identify source and you have to identify how the money was spent. the question -- what happened here was that this money both to
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stormy daniels and to the playboy playmate were campaign contributions but they weren't reported as such and the reason they weren't reported as such is because the trump campaign and we need to know who exactly was involved with this didn't want the public to know. that this was part of the trump campaign. keeping these women silent. so the real heart of the issue here is covering up the cause, these campaign expenditures because the trump campaign didn't want them known publicly. >> you heard the u.s. deputy attorney in new york saying pled guilty to two -- michael cohen has pled guilty to two counts of unlawful campaign contributions and heard michael cohen in the federal courtroom today saying he did that in quote in coordination and at the direction of a candidate of federal office referring to candidate donald trump. this happening only a few weeks
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before the presidential election in november of 2016. i want you to stand by, jeffrey. jim acosta is chief white house and in west virginia. the president ready to hold a rally on the important night and live pictures of air force one. he is about to walk down the stairs. you are getting more reaction, more information, jim. what are you learning? >> reporter: that's right, wolf. just landed mere in west virginia for a rally in evening. he's not answered roertds' questions so far about the day's developments regarding paul manafort and michael cohen. and we should also mention the white house press secretary sarah sanders, she was asked by jeremy diamond for a comment earlier this afternoon. she did not have a comment. when it comes to those questions about michael cohen and paul manafort. wolf, what we can report is i'm told by a source close to the white house that they were over at the white house hoping for a very different day, hoping for a favorable verdict in the paul manafort case because they were planning to use that favorable
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verdict either a mistrial or a not guilty verdict to attack the mueller investigation. that was the plan for the white house and their aides, advisers and supporters out in the republican party and conservative circles. that obviously did not come to pass. as for the michael cohen case, i'm told by the same source that the plan over at the white house -- >> hold on a moment. jim, i want to see if he answers reporters' questions. stand by for a moment.
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all right. so there's the president. they were shouting questions from reporters. he clearly ignored the questions. he's got a little welcoming reception there in charleston. hold on for one more moment. >> pauftd'sl manafort's a good . he was with ronald reagan. he was with a lot of very different people over the years. i feel very sad about that. i still feel, you know, it is a very sad thing that happened. this has nothing to do with russia and collusion. this started as russian collusion. this has absolutely nothing to do. this is a witch hunt and a disgrace. this has nothing to do what they started locking out looking for russians involved in our campaign. there were nothing. i feel very badly for paul manafort. he worked for bob dole. h worked for ronald reagan. he worked for many, many people.
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and this is way it ends up. it was not the original mission. believe me. it was something very much different. so, nothing to do with russia and collusion. we continue the witch hunt. thank you very much. >> what about michael cohen? >> thank you. >> any comment on michael cohen? >> we have the move. come on. >> all right. so there you heard the president. made a gestures, walked over to reporters there on the tarmac defending paul manafort found guilty at eight counts, felony counts. paul manafort, the president said is a good man. it's very sad thing that happened to him today. he said repeatedly nothing to do with russian collusion. a witch hunt. dwo quote, i feel bad for paul manafort. reminding us that paul manafort one point worked for bob dole and for ronald reagan.
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and once again, he ended with nothing to do with collusion. the president then walked away, heard some questions shouted on the michael cohen guilty plea in new york. he ignored those questions and you can see the president, very, very angry that paul manafort, campaign chairman, found guilty on eight counts, eight felony counts and could spend the rest of his life in jail. the president certainly with the option if he wants to do it down the road of issuing a pardon for paul manafort. clearly, he's very sympathetic to paul manafort. but let's get some reaction to what we just heard. jim acosta, you are there in charleston ready for the rally. hearing what the president has to say and you heard a strong defense of paul manafort, found guilty on eight counts today. >> reporter: that's right. that's right, wolf. you could hear the president trying to put distance between himself and paul manafort. and realtime. and repeating this notion that he's repeated before. that essentially paul manafort
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is a long-time republican political operative. worked for ronald reagan and bob dole and so on trying to say i essentially just did what some of the other republican candidates did. and hiring paul manafort. but, wolf, obviously, whether the president said there's no collusion, that this case nothing to do with collusion and a rigged witch hunt, we should point out that the mueller investigation is not yet wrapped up. what you are seeing is the white house fumbling for a response how to handle this avalanche of very negative, troubling legal news for the president. as i was saying, just before the president spoke there, they had other plans. the white house hoped for a favorable outcome in fact manafort trial and use it to pummel the mueller investigation and also planning to talk about the cohen case in terms of the taxi cab business dealings and now his long time fixer pled guilty to conspiracying and being in arrangement with the president to pay off people towards the end of the campaign
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including stormy daniels taking the case in another dimension. we have the president potentially, the president of the united states potentially implicated in a federal crime. wolf, it does not get more serious or more troubling than that. i think it was interesting that the president talked about that as he arrived in west virginia, talked about the manafort case. did not talk about the michael cohen case. the michael cohen case potentially has the president immediately right now in very deep legal jeopardy. also listening at this rally in just a short while to see if the president comments on this if front of the crowd of the supporters. this might be the shot in the arm he needs. in these moments as we have seen he likes to tweet out the frustrations. he may try to get out the frustrations in front of the rally later on this evening, wolf. >> i expect he'll say it's a witch hunt, a disgrace. you correctly point out he
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didn't answer questions on michael cohen and also pleaded guilty to eight counts including two counts of federal campaign contribution violations. i want do go to shimon prokupcz. the serious charge, the president was fully aware of what he was doing in arranging the hush money payments to karen mcdougall and stormy daniels. the michael cohen saying in federal court, all this was done, quote, in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office which would clearly be an illegal campaign contribution under federal law and clearly he was referring to donald trump. go ahead. what are you learning? >> that's right, wolf. also says this is being done to influence the election. so you have to wonder, really, if the president, if donald trump was not the president, would we be looking at a very
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different scenario here in that michael cohen would wind up cooperating a cooperating and we said who would be the big fish? if donald trump wasn't the president he could be indicted and perhaps he here would be the big fish and looking at a different situation. keep in mind based on the reporting we did here at cnn that there was a lot of concern that through the fbi and really the u.s. attorney's office there in new york that they couldn't indict the president and the idea of using michael cohen as a coop r cooperator is difficult. if there was an indictment here, that the president, donald trump, would likely be an unindicted co-conspirator and significant on so many, so many levels and i think everyone is saying this right today, wolf. cannot get worse for the president. >> this is a -- this document you have been going through, i've been going through. united states versus michael cohen, signed by the attorney,
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the u.s. attorney, the deputy attorney. but also, signed by michael cohen. also signed by attorney for michael cohen. guy patrillo. used to be a u.s. attorney in the criminal division in the southern division of new york, as well. a lot of details in one document. laura coates, going through this, as well. what is your reaction? >> we know precisely why lanny davis played that audio recording on air. the conversation between himself and donald trump about the payment, the money. implicated david pecker of american media incorporated, as we. also mentioned of somebody using to facilitate the campaign contributions. you have here more than one indication the president's own statements on the back of air force one, his statements on that audio recording that was given by one particular person and now you have this statements in open court by michael cohen saying that it was at the direction of and made to influence the election.
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all this combines to say that the president of the united states has exponentially legal jeopardy exposed and of his own doing particularly given a person part of the campaign was don mcgahn, a former fec commissioner and know very well of financial campaign violations and reporting requirements and now we see that that person spent 30 hours talking to robert mueller. >> the white house counsel. >> part of the trump campaign and before that with the fec. now coming together and i suspect that maybe the reason that in the background of jim acosta's reporting of "don't stop believing" playing to rally up the troops in west virginia because they fully expect that the credibility is on the line permanently. >> let's go back to jeffrey toobin for analysis from him. you had a chance to review some documents, as well. what do you think? >> well, i think, you know, at a minimum the president would be named as an unindicted
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co-conspirator in michael cohen's campaign violation. it's entirely possible if he were not president of the united states that he would be an indicted co-conspirator. he was an indispensable player in this campaign finance violation. because, remember, who benefited here? not michael cohen. michael cohen wasn't running for president. the whole point of this illegal campaign contribution was to benefit donald trump. and now michael cohen is asserting that it was done at the direction of donald trump. so why would michael cohen be exclusively prosecuted and not donald trump? for a crime like this. but remember, he is president of the united states. and there is a justice department policy. it's a policy. it is not a law. not in the constitution. it doesn't necessarily have to be followed. but it is a policy that the president cannot be indicted.
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but what we have here and what went on in open court today is a very explicit statement by michael cohen in effect endorsed by the southern district of new york that donald trump also committed a federal crime in campaign finance violations. >> it's significant, mark preston, that the president when he walked down the stairs of air force one, he went over to reporters, made a strong statement in support of paul manafort, found guilty on eight counts, felony courts today in virginia, but he didn't say anything about michael cohen at all. this is a president who's usually not shy about speaking out but he avoided anything in response to shouted questions from reporters about michael cohen. >> right, and he made these comments a few moments ago. and we were all struggling to hear what he was saying. he was very focused on manafort.
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he would not answer any questions about cohen. when you look at what's happening right now, we have to look at the totality of the situation. you have the former campaign chairman for the president of the united states, somebody who was instrumental in making sure that he got the nomination in cleveland who has been indicted, or has been convicted on eight counts of tax evasion and fraud. you have the personal lawyer, somebody who we all know to be very close to donald trump, who has pled guilty to eight different counts. this is on the same day, hours apart. this is stunning. >> you know, and rachel bade is with us, as well. michael cohen in federal court didn't only say that the president of the united states coordinated and directed the payment to stormy daniels of $130,000, only days before the presidential election in november of 2016, but also did the same thing with karen mcdougal, the former playmate that received $150,000 through american media, the parent company of the national
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enquirer, that he helped orchestrate that with the direction and coordination of donald trump. >> yeah, two facets of legal exposure, as we have been talking about all day, all afternoon. listen, beyond the legal questions, there's a lot of political exposure here too. there's been a lot of focus on legal -- prosecutors, can they come after the president right now, will they have to wait? but listen, congress has the power to impeach. and right now republicans control congress. they're not going to impeach the president. they probably won't investigate, because they're afraid of him. but there is a big mid-term election coming in just two-and-a-half months. and this really aggravates the argument that democrats have been making that the white house, you know, is corrupt, is what they're going to say. they're going to point to this specifically and say you need to put democrats in power. we need to hold this president accountable. and that could help the democrats in the midterm election when this sort of issue before was not something voters cared about. it really puts it front and center. >> joey jackson, what was your reaction when you heard the
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president just now say that paul manafort convicted on eight felony counts, he's a good man, very sad thing what happened to him, this had nothing to do with russian collusion, it's all simply a witch hunt and a disgrace and i feel very badly for paul manafort. legally, what's your reaction when you hear the president say that? >> well, two things. understanding that this will be political in nature and i want to piggyback off of what rachel said momentarily. in direct answer to your question, that's the narrative. it's a witch hunt, it's ridiculous, outrageous. look what they're doing to a good man. the other thing that comes to my mind, unlike the narrative that he's giving, right, is the issue of whether he'll pardon him. let's go right to the core points that rachel made, because they're very important. this is a legal process, yes. but it is a political process as it relates to the president of the united states. two points to make then. number one, the midterm elections are overwhelmingly significant, why? because if you have a shift in the congress from republican to democrat, you will have an appetite to actually look at what's happening here. and in the event that you don't
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only have michael cohen's words and an aloe accuse, you have documentary evidence, you have reports, texts, e-mails. that makes it worse. so i think a democratic congress will have an appetite to investigate, to get to the bottom of it. and if it you have a majority of the house of representatives to impeach that then sends it over to the senate, where he's really in jeopardy. last point. and that is, yes, although we have a republican congress now, in the event that the american people come to know and understand there could be crimes here of which he was actually implicated. and to jeffrey toobin's point, i agree, if he wasn't president, he could have been a codefendant in that courtroom today. if you have republicans, you know, they may -- may, based on political will, say, you know what? we really have to take a closer look at it. and if republicans look at it, boy, he's in for a world of hurt. >> go ahead, jeffrey. >> wolf, can i add one point
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here? wolf? >> yeah, go ahead. >> yeah, there's one legal irsse we're going to start to hear a lot about and that's the issue of will michael cohen be given immunity. he's now pleaded guilty to crimes. there is no risk that you will jeopardize a prosecution of michael cohen, because it's already over. but robert mueller has the power to give him immunity, and force him to testify in the grand jury. another idea. if the democrats retake the house of representatives, putting aside the whole issue of impeachment, simply as an investigatory matter, the house judiciary committee, which, if the democrats win will be chaired by jerry nadler, a liberal democrat from new york, they could give michael cohen immunity and force him to testify in public about what he knew about donald trump's involvement in illegal campaign
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contributions in the 2016 campaign. once you get immunity, you have no choice but to testify. it's not a question of cooperating or not cooperating. if you get immunity and you are called to testify, either in the grand jury or in front of congress, you've got to show up, or you go to jail. >> yeah. >> so the fact that michael cohen may not have signed a cooperation agreement may not be as important as the fact that he is now someone who could get immunity, forced to testify in the mueller investigation, forced to testify in front of congress, if, of course, the democrats retake it in november. >> very significant statements. everybody stand by. there is breaking news. a jury finds president trump's former campaign chairman, paul manafort, guilty of eight tax fraud and bank charges. but the president calls manufacturmanafort a good man and the russia investigation a witch hunt. and his one-time lawyer and fixer michael cohen, pleads
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guilty to fraud charges along with campaign finance violations, making it clear he paid hush money at the direction of donald trump. i'll speak to the lawyer for stormy daniels, michael avenatti. lots more on the breaking news coming up. h! that will never wo. no, no, no, nah. a bulb of light?!? aha ha ha! a flying machine? impossible! a personal' computer?! ha! smart neighborhoods running on a microgrid. a stadium powered with solar. a hospital that doesn't lose power. amazing. i like it. never gonna happen.
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